Last night was the New Moon, and so I held chinkon-gyo meditation in front of my Inari altar for the second time, after deciding to do this every New Moon back in September.
Before meditation, I took a shower. This functioned as a kind of o-misogi purification, although admittedly I didn’t do it with cold water as you’re supposed to do. The days are getting colder, and a warm shower is all I want. Eventually, I hope I can pluck up the courage to drench myself in cold water – perhaps then I’ll truly understand what o-misogi is all about.
Following this, I turned off the lights and lit candles in my Inari altar room. I also put on some traditional Japanese koto music, which has the dual function of putting me in the right frame of mind as well as making me feel less self-conscious about chanting; my husband was in the bedroom not far away and he’d be able to hear me chanting if it wasn’t for the music, which I still feel a bit self-conscious about (silly I know, but…).
My local supermarket is now stocking persimmon, a traditional autumn fruit in Japan, so I bought one to offer to Inari-sama before beginning. I also refreshed the other offerings, something I admittedly don’t do often enough. Although the offerings of water, rice and salt will be fine to leave out for a week, the sake goes mouldy very quickly because the altar gets a lot of light. I really need to be a little more mindful and refresh the offerings more often. I can’t imagine Inari-sama appreciates mouldy sake on His altar…
Finally I performed the furitama, prayers and gestures of the chinkon-gyo as prescribed in Llewellyn Evans’ Shinto Norito book. The main change I made was to substitute one of the longer prayers with the Inari Okami Norito, which naturally seems more appropriate. I feel I am getting better at Norito – I can recite the HI FU MI by heart easily now, and although I have not memorised the Inari Okami Norito, I can read it a lot more fluently than when I first started and I have parts of it memorised.
Once again, this felt more like learning a new skill than a real spiritual experience, but I know that as I get better and more practised at chinkon, the spiritual aspect will come. As some consolation, when I finished and came to join my husband in the bedroom, his mobile phone was randomly playing a track by BABYMETAL – a band whose members are all devotees of Inari Okami. I can only take that as a sign that Inari-sama was listening after all!